The Articles of Faith as a step ladder of knowledge.

I often frequent a certain discussion board online. http://www.mormondialogue.org in fact. I quite enjoy the often frank discussions among my peers. And while the conversations are usually friendly, too the point, and often derailed into odd little tangents that make your head spin, I have managed to learn a lot from this crowd.

Little things like why the Lord made the meat sweet to Lehi and his family. Can’t cook it because smoke from fire draws in bandits that will rape, pillage, burn, and eat your family in that part of the world. Just little gems really.

More than anything, I like the generally relevant conversation and friendly demeanor of most of the posters.

Anyways, a while back, I stumbled on a post made by a gentleman who goes by the name of PaPa. Now, while I don’t classify myself as being anywhere near as smart as these guys, he had made a post that seemed so perfectly sublime and insightful that I have shared it with members of my family, my congregation at church, and generally anyone whom I have had a religious discussion with over the last three years since it was written.

The post will be pasted below so that you can read it. But I wanted to make sure that everyone knew where it came from and that I didn’t author it. PaPa from Mormondialogue.org did. And hoo boy, he did a GREAT job in my opinion.

I hope you read it. I hope you enjoy it. And I hope you learn something from it. It’s always the little things that impress me the most and this did a fine job of doing just that for me.

Enjoy.

The Articles of Faith…A Flow Chart of Revelation:

In what is known as the Wentworth Letter the Prophet Joseph Smith listed what has come to be known as The Articles of Faith. These articles offer a flow chart of Revelation listing in order the fundamental doctrines and beliefs of the Lord’s Church in these Latter-days.

First… Joseph establishes that “there is a “God”, and that we believe that this “God” (or Godhead) is made up of three individuals that being…

1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

Second… Joseph teaches that because there is a God (in whom “we believe”) that we as his children are accountable unto him, accountable for our own sins and not for another’s.

2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

Third…because there is a God and we are accountable to him for our sins…that He “God” has provided a way to overcome those sins and be saved from the penalties of sin if we repent.

3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

Forth…After establishing that through the atonement and obedience to the “laws and ordinances of the gospel”, he then establishes the first “principles and ordinances” of the gospel which are…

4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Fifth…Having established the “first principles and ordinances of the gospel” he reveals that God has given unto man the authority to officiate in the ordinances, and the means by which he is called and ordained…

5 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

Sixth…Joseph then goes on to list the organization and its structure which gives unto man that authority and the offices in which he is to act with that authority…

6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

Seventh…that within this established organization and because of the offices appointed therein the members of that organization can and do enjoy the following spiritual gifts…

7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

Eighth…Having established that there is a God and that his organization has now been established he (Joseph) then lists the scriptures that establish these beliefs, and the standard by which these truths are governed…

8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

Ninth…Having listed the scriptures which govern the church also goes on to establish that God will continue to reveal the requirements and additional standards and scriptures by which it to be governed…

9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

Tenth…he then teaches that all of these things are for the gathering of his people and that the same land upon which the church is established is the same land where God will build his kingdom upon earth from which he will govern all kingdoms…

10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

Eleventh…After establishing that there is a God and we as his children are accountable unto him, and the offices and ordinances have been established to carry out his purposes, we proclaim unto the world that these are our beliefs and that we worship God “according to the dictates of our own consciences”, and that we “allow all men to do the same”.

11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Twelfth…After having established all of these things then we acknowledge that after making ourselves subject unto God’s kingdom (first) we then are reminded and commanded that we also have an obligation to earthly kingdoms as set forth in the scriptures…

12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

Finally…The standards of conduct by which we are bound to both heavenly and earthly kingdoms…and our hope for both.

13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

In the above paragraphs, PaPa pointed out some very profound things concerning these simple things that I was taught as a child. I grew up memorizing these articles of faith. I grew up believing each and every statement. The kicker though was that I thought that they were just a smattering of teachings that covered lots of stuff. I had never built a correlation in my head as to how they tied together. PaPa did an AMAZING job in doing just that. Because of this, I have gained a stronger understanding of these simple articles. I had a greater respect for what President Smith put to paper. And I took the teachings contained in the Articles of Faith a little more to heart once I saw that there was a bigger picture behind them.

So, Kudos PaPa for pointing out this step ladder of knowledge… and thanks to anyone that took the time to read the entire thing.

-G

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